When talking about social media marketing I’m often asked “how much time does this take,” or “how do you find the time to do all this twittering,” or “is your mom ever disappointed that you never put your college education to work?”
Social Media Doesn’t Have to be a Time Suck
Yes, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social media sites can bring your productivity to a screeching halt, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re avoiding these sites to avoid temptation, you’re missing out on important conversations and networking opportunities that can help grow your business.
The risk of missed opportunities outweighs the risk of lost time, especially since you control the clock. Here are three steps to better manage your time on social media activities.
Step 1: Determine Why You Use Social Media
Not surprisingly, people use social media for different business purposes depending on their industry, company and job title. Are you using social media for research, networking, sales & marketing, or some combination?
If research is your goal you’ll want to find blogs, podcasts and news sites that provide quality information and subscribe to their RSS feeds. What is RSS, you ask? Watch this video to find out.
If networking is your focus you’ll want to build a community and/or an audience. You’ll want to be active on social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as building a following on Twitter.
If you’re driven by sales & marketing, you’ll want to concentrate on getting your brand and products out there, perhaps by creating videos, blogging, and engaging customers on social networking sites.
Step 2: Develop a Strategy to Manage Your Time Wisely
Once you have determined your purpose for using social media for business, you can develop a strategy that supports that purpose. Here are a few ideas that will help you tame social media:
- Create a schedule. Block out time to tweet, use social networking sites, blog or create YouTube videos. Conversely, when it’s time to write proposals or meet clients, shut down these sites and concentrate on the rest of your business.
- Focus your activities where they’ll have the most impact. First, go where your customers go. I favor Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, but perhaps your customers are on MySpace or a small, vertical networking site that focuses on your industry. Secondly, although everyone wants a lot of connections, quality trumps quantity. Too many connections can be a distraction; don’t feel you have to friend, follow back or become linked in with everyone.
- Keep to your purpose. Most of what goes on within the social media sphere is just that, “social.” It’s hard not to get sucked in to a “must see” YouTube video, a link that a friend posted on Facebook or seeing what’s hot on Digg. RESIST THE URGE! Follow up with friends after work and bookmark NSFW links for after the kids go to bed.
Step 3: Use Tools to Maximize Your Productivity
Scientists often say our ability to use tools separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. Personally, I think it’s our well-developed sense of sarcasm and keen fashion sense. Regardless, you can use tools to better manage the time you spend on social media activities. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Ping.fm: Many social media sites allow you to update your status, but answering “what are you doing?” across multiple sites gets old fast. Ping.fm allows you to update your status across dozens of sites through a simple interface.
- TubeMogul.com: Video has become an essential part of any business’s marketing plans. Don’t just stop at YouTube, though. TubeMogul is like Ping.fm for video: it uploads your video to multiple sites and then provides you viewing statistics from each site.
- RSS: Use RSS to track your favorite blogs, podcasts, gurus, and search terms on social media sites and have them delivered to Google Reader, Bloglines, or the newsreader of your choice.
- FriendFeed: Feeling scattered across multiple websites and accounts? Use FriendFeed to collect many online activities–blogs, photos, videos, social networking and more–in just one place so people can follow you. (You can control what gets shared, ‘natch.) Further, you can easily follow experts in your field who have created their own profiles at FriendFeed.
To manage your time wisely you need to have a good grasp on why you’re using social media, develop a strategy to keep you focused, and utilize a growing number of tools that will help you maximize your effort. However, the best line of defense against social media time suck is you.
Know what you want to get out of social media, know how much time you can put into it, and then make your decisions wisely.
If you'd like help developing a social media strategy for your business contact flyte today.
President, flyte new media